Rell Meets With Mayors, Including Political Challengers
February 15, 2006
By MARK PAZNIOKAS, Courant Staff Writer
Gov. M. Jodi Rell sat at one end of
a long table. Her Democratic challengers, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano
Jr. and Stamford Mayor Dannel P. Malloy, sat on opposite sides at
the other end.
The topic Tuesday at Rell's closed-door
meeting at the Capitol with more than a dozen mayors was how to
curb urban violence. Participants said the tone was polite and the
conversation direct, even with three major gubernatorial candidates
seated at the table.
"We all agree this is something we have to work on together,"
Rell said after the meeting, as Malloy peered over her shoulder
and DeStefano stood to the side. "It is not about politics.
It is about doing something to protect our children."
The Republican governor said she was
open to revising her proposed budget to respond to mayoral concerns,
including a complaint by DeStefano that her budget would provide
$750,000 in new anti-crime funds, yet end an effective $850,000
"I think he brings up a good point,"
Rell said. "Maybe we will go back and take a look."
The Democrats said the meeting was
an appreciated gesture, but Rell's budget will be a better measure
of her commitment to fighting urban crime, especially involving
"I appreciate the meeting, but
the direction and vision of the state gets shaped in the budget,
and it wasn't there," DeStefano said.
Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez handed
Rell a petition from civic leaders in Hartford who are asking Rell
for more resources to fight a recent spate of shootings. Rev. Cornell
Lewis and other activists marched to the Capitol to present the
Before the meeting, Malloy and DeStefano
each released similarly named anti-crime plans directed at keeping
young people from trouble.
With his "Connecticut Youth Action
Plan," DeStefano would use expanded youth employment and counseling
to attack teen violence.
Malloy issued a "Connecticut Youth
Development Initiative" that focused on mentoring, youth employment
and partnerships with community organizations.
The two mayors called for the passage
of legislation that would require the reporting by gun owners of
lost or stolen guns, a measure that Perez asked Rell to endorse
during their meeting.
Rell said she would study the measure,
but sounded a skeptical note: "Most of the guns [traced to
violent crimes] are not necessarily falling in the category of lost
or stolen guns."
In separate interviews, DeStefano and
Malloy said that Rell missed the point of the legislation, which
they say is intended to strip criminals of a defense when their
guns are traced to crimes.
"The reality is they currently
have a defense," Malloy said. "Their defense is, `Oops,
I lost it.' What we want to do is cut that line of retreat off."
"She didn't get it," DeStefano
Rell said the meeting Tuesday marked
the beginning of a dialogue with the mayors.
"This is not an issue that is
going to be solved in one meeting, on one day with one press release,"
Rell said. "We need to continue this dialogue."
Her dialogue eventually will include
a series of gubernatorial debates with either Malloy or DeStefano,
but Rell said the candidates ignored the politics for the day.
Rell insisted that talking policy with
her opponents presented no awkwardness.
"I think it was fine working
with them," she said. Then glancing over her shoulder, she
added, "I hope."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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